Louisiana chimpanzee wins first prize in art contest


NEW ORLEANS (AP) – A painting by a 37-year-old Louisiana primate who applies color with his tongue instead of a brush has been deemed the finest chimpanzee art in the land.

Brent, a retired laboratory animal, was the top vote-getter in an online chimp art contest organized by the Humane Society of the United States, which announced the results Thursday. He won $10,000 for the Chimp Haven sanctuary in northwest Louisiana.

A Chimp Haven spokeswoman said Brent was unavailable for comment Thursday. “I think he’s asleep,” Ashley Gordon said.

But as the society said on its website, “The votes are in, so let the pant hooting begin!” – pant hooting being the characteristic call of an excited chimp.

Five other sanctuaries around the country competed, using paintings created during “enrichment sessions,” which can include any of a wide variety of activities and playthings.

Chimpanzee researcher Jane Goodall chose her favorite from photographs she was sent. That painting, by Cheetah, a male at Save the Chimps in Fort Pierce, Fla., won $5,000 as Goodall’s choice and another $5,000 for winning second place in online voting, Humane Society spokeswoman Nicole Ianni said.

This undated image provided by Chimp Haven, Inc. shows Brent, a chimpanzee at its shelter in Keithville.

This undated image provided by Chimp Haven, Inc. shows Brent, a chimpanzee at its shelter in Keithville.

 

Ripley from the Center for Great Apes in Wauchula, Fla., won third place and $2,500.

More than 27,000 people voted, Ianni said in a news release. The organization is not giving vote totals “to keep the focus on the positive work of the sanctuaries and not necessarily the ‘winner,'” she said in an email. The sanctuaries care for chimpanzees retired from research, entertainment and the pet trade. Chimp Haven is the national sanctuary for those retired from federal research.

Other submitted paintings were by Jamie, a female at Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest in Cle Elum, Wash.; Jenny, a female at Primate Rescue Center in Nicholasville, Ky.; and Patti, a female at Chimps Inc. in Bend, Ore.

A profile of Brent on the Humane Society’s website says he has lived at Chimp Haven since 2006, is protective of an even older chimp at the sanctuary and “loves to laugh and play.” It continues, “Brent paints only with his tongue. His unique approach and style, while a little unorthodox, results in beautiful pieces of art.”

Cathy Willis Spraetz, Chimp Haven’s president and CEO, said she chose a painting by Brent partly because of that unusual method. She said she later held a canvas up to the mesh of his indoor cage so she could watch him at work.

Some other chimps use brushes or point to the colors they want on the canvas, but Brent comes up to smush pre-applied blobs of child-safe tempera paints with his tongue, she said.

“If we handed the canvas to them where it was on the inside, they might not want to hand it back,” she said. “They might throw it around and step on it.”

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Starved polar bear perished due to record sea-ice melt, says expert


Climate change has reduced ice in the Arctic to record lows in the past year, forcing animals to range further in search of food.

This 16-year-old male polar bear died of starvation resulting from the lack of ice on which to hunt seals. Photograph: Ashley Cooper/Global Warming Images

This 16-year-old male polar bear died of starvation resulting from the lack of ice on which to hunt seals. Photograph: Ashley Cooper/Global Warming Images

 

A starved polar bear found found dead in Svalbard as “little more than skin and bones” perished due to a lack of sea ice on which to hunt seals, according to a reknowned polar bear expert.

Climate change has reduced sea ice in the Arctic to record lows in the last year and Dr Ian Stirling, who has studied the bears for almost 40 years and examined the animal, said the lack of ice forced the bear into ranging far and wide in an ultimately unsuccessful search for food.

“From his lying position in death, the bear appears to simply have starved and died where he dropped,” Stirling said. “He had no external suggestion of any remaining fat, having been reduced to little more than skin and bone.”

The bear had been examined by scientists from the Norwegian Polar Institute in April in the southern part of Svalbard, an Arctic island archipelago, and appeared healthy. The same bear had been captured in the same area in previous years, suggesting that the discovery of its body, 250km away in northern Svalbard in July, represented an unusual movement away from its normal range. The bear probably followed the fjords inland as it trekked north, meaning it may have walked double or treble that distance.

Polar bears feed almost exclusively on seals and need sea ice to capture their prey. But 2012 saw the lowest level of sea ice in the Arctic on record. Prond Robertson, at the Norwegian Meteorological Institute, said: “The sea ice break up around Svalbard in 2013 was both fast and very early.” He said recent years had been poor for ice around the islands: “Warm water entered the western fjords in 2005-06 and since then has not shifted.”

Stirling, now at Polar Bears International and previously at the University of Alberta and the Canadian Wildlife Service, said: “Most of the fjords and inter-island channels in Svalbard did not freeze normally last winter and so many potential areas known to that bear for hunting seals in spring do not appear to have been as productive as in a normal winter. As a result, the bear likely went looking for food in another area but appears to have been unsuccessful.”

Scientists are tracking polar bears with radio collars in Svalbard, Norway, to monitor their search for food. Photograph: Ashley Cooper/Global Warming Images

Scientists are tracking polar bears with radio collars in Svalbard, Norway, to monitor their search for food. Photograph: Ashley Cooper/Global Warming Images

 

Research published in May showed that loss of sea ice was harming the health, breeding success and population size of the polar bears of Hudson Bay, Canada as they spent longer on land waiting for the sea to refreeze. Other work has shown polar bear weights are declining. In February, a panel of polar bear experts published a paper stating that rapid ice loss meant options such the feeding of starving bears by humans needed to be considered to protect the 20,000-25,000 animals thought to remain.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature, the world’s largest professional conservation network, states that of the 19 populations of polar bear around the Arctic, data is available for 12. Of those, eight are declining, three are stable and one is increasing.

The IUCN predicts that increasing ice loss will mean between one-third and a half of polar bears will be lost in the next three generations, about 45 years. But the US and Russian governments said in March that faster-than-expected ice losses could mean two-thirds are lost.

Attributing a single incident to climate change can be controversial, but Douglas Richardson, head of living collections at the Highland Wildlife Park near Kingussie, said: “It’s not just one bear though. There are an increasing number of bears in this condition: they are just not putting down enough fat to survive their summer fast. This particular polar bear is the latest bit of evidence of the impact of climate change.”

Ice loss due to climate change is “absolutely, categorically and without question” the cause of falling polar bear populations, said Richardson, who cares for the UK’s only publicly kept polar bears. He said 16 years was not particularly old for a wild male polar bear, which usually live into their early 20s. “There may have been some underlying disease, but I would be surprised if this was anything other than starvation,” he said. “Once polar bears reach adulthood they are normally nigh on indestructible, they are hard as nails.”

Jeff Flocken, at the International Fund for Animal Welfare, said: “While it is difficult to ascribe a single death or act to climate change it couldn’t be clearer that drastic and long-term changes in their Arctic habitat threaten the survival of the polar bear. The threat of habitat loss from climate change, exacerbated by unsustainable killing for commercial trade in Canada, could lead to the demise of one of the world’s most iconic animals, and this would be a true tragedy.”

Russia and Ukraine likely to block huge Antarctic marine reserve


Adélie penguins in the Ross Sea, off Antarctica. Photograph: John Weller/AFP/Getty

Adélie penguins in the Ross Sea, off Antarctica. Photograph: John Weller/AFP/Getty

 

Conservation body meets to discuss protection of area 13 times the size of the UK, which would require unanimous agreement

 

Russia and Ukraine look likely to block a plan to create two huge marine reserves off the coast of Antarctica that combined would be bigger than the area of all the world’s protected oceans put together.

The 25-member Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) meets in Bremerhaven, Germany, on Thursday to discuss the proposal to create the Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in the Ross Sea, off the east coast of Antarctica. A decision, expected on Tuesday, would require unanimous agreement.

The proposal, backed by the US, New Zealand, Australia, France and the EU, would designate an area 13 times the size of the UK as one in which natural resource exploitation, including fishing, would be illegal. Advocates say the MPAs would provide environmental security to a region that remains relatively pristine.

Publicly, delegates and environmental NGOs have expressed optimism that the meeting will be a success. But a senior source at the meeting said the attitudes of Russia and Ukraine as they entered were looking negative.

The debate highlighted a rift between “pro-[fish]harvesting countries” and those who style themselves proponents of conservation, such as the US, Australia, New Zealand and the EU, according to Alan Hemmings, a specialist in Antarctic governance at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand.He said: “You would put Russia and the Ukraine near the top of the states that are likely to be concerned about marine protected areas in the Antarctic on a large scale, along with China, Japan and, on and off, South Korea.”

“There’s a tug of war between those who want to establish conservation management and those who want to keep working with smaller-scale fisheries management,” said Steve Campbell, campaign director at the Antarctic Ocean Alliance. But he expressed “quiet optimism” that the proposals would be passed, if not at the meeting in Germany, then at the next annual meeting in Hobart, Australia later in the year.

The US and NGOs have been lobbying countries who expressed reservations at the last CCAMLR meeting. NGOs and delegates reported that China, South Korea and Japan looked likely to support the proposals.

Many countries have valuable fisheries in the region, particularly for patagonian toothfish and krill. Andrea Kavanagh, director of the Pew Charitable Trusts Southern Ocean sanctuaries, said defining the boundaries of the reserves to balance ecology and economic interests would represent a challenge to negotiations.

Additionally, a sunset clause for the reserves, proposed by Norway and supported by Russia and Japan, would mean the protected status of East Antarctic and Ross Sea reserves would have to be renewed in 2064 and 2043 respectively. Campbell said reserves with time limits were highly unusual.

“Precedent tells you that if you set up a protected area, you set it up for an indefinite period of time. If you set up a national park in a country, you designate it in perpetuity.” He said the potential for fishing and other resources in the future was driving the push.

“It’s not just about what’s there now, it’s also about what could be a future economic interest or a future interest in the region,” said Campbell.

The extraordinary session in Bremerhaven was arranged after the last annual meeting of CCAMLR in November, 2011 failed to reach a consensus on the MPAs. At the time Russia, China and Ukraine expressed concerns at a lack of available science in favour of the reserves. The decision was taken to reconvene this summer with the agenda solely focused on the proposals.

Green groups expressed dismay at last year’s inaction. They were joined by delegates from the USA, UK, EU and Australia who feared that CCAMLR had lost its proactive attitude to conservation.

At the end of the 2011 meeting, the Ukraine delegation said well-grounded scientific arguments were lacking. They said MPAs were only one approach to managing an ecosystem and that “only fishing, at least at some level, can guarantee that research is conducted” to monitor fish stocks.

“Russia was of the view that previous scientific committee advice was related to only some aspects of MPAs and that all available information needed to be considered,” said the Russian delegation.

Russian and Ukraine declined to comment further on this week’s meeting.

Obama’s rhetoric makes climate action a simpler question of right and wrong


Will other world leaders take a cue from US President who is making climate change action a question of ethics and morals?

President Barack Obama wipes perspiration from his face as he speaks about climate change in Washington. Photograph: Charles Dharapak/AP

President Barack Obama wipes perspiration from his face as he speaks about climate change in Washington. Photograph: Charles Dharapak/AP

THERE are a lot of decisions in life that are easier because we know the difference between right and wrong – it’s why we wouldn’t steal a biscuit from a poor homeless orphan or kick away a pensioner’s walking stick as they’re about to step on to a pedestrian crossing.

For these reasons, stealing stuff that’s not yours or assaulting pensioners (or anyone else for that matter) is considered by the community at large to be ethically or morally wrong as well as being against the law.

Recent rhetorical flourishes from father-of-two Barack Obama, the President of the United States, have tossed climate change into this same bucket of ethical decisions.

Obama has tugged at the needle of our moral compasses several times with soundbites loaded with ethical ordnance. Take these examples from his recent climate change speech in Washington and his weekly White House address.

Some day our children and our children’s children will look us in eye they and they will ask us, did we do all that we could when we had the chance to deal with this problem and leave them a cleaner, safer and more stable world? I want to be able to say, yes we did… Decades of carefully reviewed science tells us our planet is changing in ways that will have profound impacts on the world we leave to our children… those of us in positions of responsibility will need to be less concerned with the judgment of special interests and well-connected donors, and more concerned with the judgment of our children… The question is not whether we need to act.  The question is whether we will have the courage to act before it’s too late…. We will be judged – as a people, as a society, and as a country – on where we go from here… power plants can still dump unlimited amounts of carbon pollution into the air for free. That’s not right, that’s not safe, and it needs to stop.

It’s not the first time the President has asked us to look into the eyes of our kids for a reason to act on climate change. In his second term victory speech in November 2012, he said  “we want our children to live in an an America… that isn’t threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet.”

During his State of the Union address in February, he said that “for the sake of our children and our future, we must do more to combat climate change”.

Looking at the words alone, Obama is simplifying the climate change issue down to a question of right and wrong. Cutting the use of fossil fuels = right. Not cutting the use of fossil fuels = wrong.

Climate campaigners will point to a mismatch between the words and his ongoing support for fracked gas, but taking such an emotive position on the issue hands a very large metaphorical stick to campaigners with which they can beat their President if and when his actions fail to match the words. When Obama says he wants to lead the world on the issue, the stick gets handed around to everyone else.

But this strong ethical position on the issue may give other leaders cause to stop and think about how they justify action on climate change to their citizenry.

Alongside arguments made on an economic basis (we’ll fall behind in the Clean Industrial Revolution or we’ll get slugged with massive clean up bills from fires, floods and storm surges), a health basis (prolonged heat waves can kill) or a survival basis (we’ve still got to find food when extreme weather decimates crops), how many other leaders will simply say – as Obama now is – that strong action is ethically the right thing to do?

Australia, for example, is a relatively small contributor to the global problem when it comes to its own emissions – roughly three per cent of global emissions if you count greenhouse gases emitted domestically and those dug up and sent overseas to be burned elsewhere. Emissions from the likes of China, India and the US eclipse those of Australia.

Yet in per capita terms, Australia is one of the worst offenders. Then there’s the country’s world leading position on coal exports, its soon-to-be world leading position on exports of Liquified Natural Gas and, as I’ve already written here, the ongoing support for further expansion of fossil fuel mining and exports.

Just as President Obama prefaced his speech on the decades of scientific research into the impacts of burning coal, oil and gas on the climate, Australia’s Climate Commission recently laid out the issue clearly for all concerned.

Looking at what needs to happen to have a decent chance of staying beneath 2C of global warming and the real-life impacts that come with that benign-sounding number, the commission said:

It is clear that most fossil fuels must be left in the ground and cannot be burned.

But some watchers might question the wisdom of that 2C guardrail, given the kind of extreme weather events being delivered now after only 1C of global warming.

A new study just released has looked at Australia’s record melting summer heatwave of 2012/13.

Chart showing maximum temperatures reached across Australia during 2012/13 summer heatwave

Chart showing maximum temperatures reached across Australia during 2012/13 summer heatwave

 

As the Bureau of Meteorology has recorded, the heatwave gave Australia its hottest day on record – 40.3C (104.5F). For seven days straight, the average maximum temperature across the country was 39C (102F).

During the heatwave, a maximum temperature of 45C (113F) or more was recorded at least once for 46.9 per cent of the country.

Thongs (aka flip-flops) melted and petrol pumps were turned off to stop fuel vaporising. Hundreds of bush fires destroyed properties and livelihoods.

The study in the leading journal Geophysical Research Letters found that the extra greenhouse gases in the atmosphere put there by human activity had increased the risk of the heatwave happening by a factor of between two-and-a-half and five.

So are decisions made now and into the future to increase these risks by digging up and burning more fossil fuels ethically questionable? If you take your cue from Obama’s words, then the answer may be yes.

US Department of Agriculture probes Oregon Monsanto GM wheat mystery


Company cries foul over appearance of genetically modified wheat but scientist who found it doubts claim of sabotage.

The Department of Agriculture is investigating the presence of genetically modified wheat plants in an Oregon field. Photograph: Graham Turner for the Guardian

The Department of Agriculture is investigating the presence of genetically modified wheat plants in an Oregon field. Photograph: Graham Turner for the Guardian

 

It is a mystery that could cost the American farmer billions: how rogue genetically modified wheat plants turned up on a farmer’s field in Oregon.

The scientist who first discovered the renegade grain – by dipping a plastic strip into a tube of pulped plant, in order to check its genetics – believes the GM wheat could have entered America’s food supply undetected years ago, and could still be in circulation.

“There’s a lot of potential for how it could have got into the supply,” said Carol Mallory-Smith, a professor of weed sciences at Oregon State University. “It could have already been processed. It could have gone for animal feed somewhere or it could have gone for something else. It could have gone for storage.”

The Department of Agriculture, which is conducting a secretive investigation into the renegade GM wheat outbreak, maintains the GM wheat remained confined to a single 125-acre field on a single farm in eastern Oregon. Officials said there was no evidence the contaminated wheat was in the marketplace.

Monsanto, which manufactured the altered gene and conducted field trials of the GM wheat several years ago, strongly suggested in a conference call with reporters on Friday that the company was the victim of sabotage of anti-GM campaigners. Robb Fraley, Monsanto’s chief technology officer, said:

It’s fair to say there are folks who don’t like biotechnology and who would use this as an opportunity to make problems.

The real story is unlikely to emerge – if at all – until the publication of the final report by 18 Department of Agriculture investigators who are now scouring grain elevators, farmers’ fields and university research stations in eastern Oregon, hunting for a few grains of suspicious wheat.

The stakes are high for America’s wheat exports, with Japan and South Korea cancelling shipments; for Monsanto, which faces lawsuits from farmers for falling wheat prices and a consumer backlash against GM products; and for the US government, which must shore up confidence in the safety and integrity of the food supply.

The crisis for wheat farmers began in late April, with a phone call from a crop consultant seeking the advice of researchers at Oregon State University in Corvallis. The consultant had sprayed Roundup, a weed killer also manufactured by Monsanto, on some fallow land. Ordinarily, glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, would be expected to clean out the entire 125-acre field. This time, however, some plants survived.

The consultant, fearing he had come across a “superweed”, got in touch with the university and sent some plants in for testing. A clump of plants, carefully wrapped in plastic to keep them green, arrived by Fed-Ex on 30 April. Scientists separated 24 samples and tested them for the presence of Monsanto’s Roundup Ready gene, CP4, which was developed to be resistant to glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup weed killer.

“They all came up positive,” she said. So did a second battery of tests by another lab at the university and independent testing on a different set of wheat plants collected by researchers from the Department of Agriculture. The scientists were still slightly disbelieving, however. The only chance for contamination by the GM wheat, it was thought, was from field trials Monsanto conducted in the late 1990s until 2005.

The wheat was grown in more than 100 test plots in 16 states over several years, but the company wound down the last of the trials in 2005, because it saw little market potential. Unlike the other big crops – corn, soybeans, cotton and canola – American farmers have never raised GM wheat on a commercial basis. The US exports much of its wheat to Asia and Europe, who do not want GM products. The Oregon field trials stopped in 2001.

“Our customers have zero-tolerance for GM wheat,” said Wally Powell, president of the Oregon Wheat Growers League.

Monsanto is currently testing a next generation of GM wheat in North Dakota and Hawaii. The company insists the seeds from those earlier trials were shipped backed to its labs in Missouri or destroyed in the field and driven deep into the earth with a backhoe.

“Most of the seed was destroyed in the field,” said Jeff Koscelny, who heads Monsanto’s wheat sales team. “It never left the site, and it was buried. To us, it’s not logical there were any seeds out there.”

Monsanto has faced a backlash over GM products. Photograph: Nigel Treblin/AFP/Getty Images

Monsanto has faced a backlash over GM products. Photograph: Nigel Treblin/AFP/Getty Images

 

While Monsanto’s chief technology officer suggested eco-activists were to blame, Mallory-Smith said deliberate contamination was the least likely scenario:

The sabotage conspiracy theory is even harder for me to explain or think as logical because it would mean that someone had that seed and was holding that seed for 10 or 12 years and happened to put it on the right field to have it found, and identified. I don’t think that makes a lot of sense.

She was also sceptical of Monsanto’s claims to have gathered up or destroyed every last seed from its earlier GM wheat trials. In recent years, as American farmers rely increasingly on GM crops, there have been a spate of such escapes, including rice, corn, soybean, and tomato. Oregon is still trying to contain a 2006 escape of GM bentgrass, used on golf courses, which has migrated 13 miles from where it was originally planted.

“Once we put a trait or a gene into the environment we can not expect that we are going to be able to retract or bring back that gene and find every last gene that we put out there,” said Mallory-Smith. Tracing the course of an escape so long after Monsanto’s field trials will be even more difficult, she said. “It’s like finding a needle in a hay stack,” she said.

One morning in late June, farmers from wheat-growing areas in Oregon, Idaho and Washington state drove their pick-up trucks to the station, to learn about the latest advances in farm technology – including toy-sized drones – and to catch up on the latest on the GM wheat escape. Some of the farmers were relatively relaxed – those whose land sits relatively high up and don’t expect to harvest their crop until August.

Wheat prices reached historic highs before the GM discovery. If there is no further evidence of contamination, they figure they can ride out the crisis, store their wheat, and wait until Japan and South Korea place orders again. But there is also an undercurrent of suspicion and anger at the unidentified farmer who reported finding GM wheat on his land – consequently putting all of their crops in jeopardy.

“It’s a mystery to me how they even found that GM wheat,” said Herb Marsh, 80, who has been farming in eastern Oregon his entire life. “It’s hard for me to swallow that he would go, and actually get it tested.

“It’s just a big mystery,” he said.

Parkour


“The object of parkour is to get from one place to another in the most efficient way possible using only the human body and the objects in the environment”(wikipedia).

7 runs by LeVietnamienVolant, in Marseille, Martigues, and Saint-Mitre (south of France).Recorded in May 2010.

A film by L’1consolable.
Tracer: Le Vietnamien Volant
Filming & editing: L’1consolable
Original soundtrack by Bonobo.

 

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi: Flow, the secret to happiness


Speaking at the TED Conference, famed psychologist Mihaly Czikszentmihalyi asks what’s the source of happiness? And his answer comes down to this: Beyond a certain point (and it’s not very far), money doesn’t affect happiness too much. Rather, as his research shows, we tend to be most happy when we get immersed, almost lost in, being creative and performing at our best. It’s an ecstatic state that he calls “flow.” The video runs about 19 minutes, and is well worth your time. Some book titles worth checking out include: Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience or Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement with Everyday Life.

 

Roger Ebert Dies at 70 Following Battle with Cancer


roger ebert dies death

Originally posted by:

By Meriah Doty | Movie Talk

 

Famed movie critic Roger Ebert died Thursday in Chicago after battling cancer. He was 70.

An opinionated writer, but also a movie fan, Ebert reviewed films for the Chicago Sun-Times for 46 years. He was perhaps best known, however, for his 31 years reviewing films on television.

Ebert experienced health problems over the past ten years, suffering illnesses including thyroid cancer and cancer of the salivary gland. In 2006 he lost part of his lower jaw, but — as his obituary in the Sun-Times points out — it didn’t drive him out of the spotlight.

President Obama, also from Chicago, released a statement on Ebert’s passing:

Michelle and I are saddened to hear about the passing of Roger Ebert. For a generation of Americans – and especially Chicagoans – Roger was the movies. When he didn’t like a film, he was honest; when he did, he was effusive – capturing the unique power of the movies to take us somewhere magical. Even amidst his own battles with cancer, Roger was as productive as he was resilient – continuing to share his passion and perspective with the world. The movies won’t be the same without Roger, and our thoughts and prayers are with Chaz and the rest of the Ebert family.

Many may not know, but Ebert was an early investor in Google and believed in the power of the Internet to share his messages — especially through his site on rogerebert.com.

The acclaimed writer enjoyed wide and varied accolades, winning a Pulitzer Prize in 1975 and was added to the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2005. He also won a Webby “Person of the Year” award in 2010 for special achievement.

Fresh off the heels of his Pulitzer, Ebert launched his television show — along with Gene Siskel (who died in 1999) — the same year he was honored with the esteemed writing award. It started as a local Chicago show, but its popularity eventually pushed it into the national spotlight, making the duo’s famed “thumbs up, thumbs down” a household gesture.

Ebert graduated from the University of Illinois in 1964, where he wrote and edited for student publications. He studied in South Africa on a Rotary Scholarship after graduating and later went on to the University of Chicago with the plan of earning his doctorate in English. As a student, Ebert also expressed interest in working at the Sun-Times and by April 1967, he was asked to become the paper’s film critic when the previous critic, Eleanor Keen, retired.

He was savvy from the start, calling 1967’s “Bonnie and Clyde” with Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway “a milestone” and “a landmark.” “Years from now it is quite possible that ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ will be seen as the definitive film of the 1960s,” he wrote in his review.

Aside from his early eye on Google, Ebert also broke character when he wrote the campy 1970 film “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls” for sexploitation director Russ Meyer. Ebert’s newspaper editor of the time, James Hoge, made him choose between making films and reviewing them. He chose the latter.

Ebert is survived by his wife Chaz Hammelsmith, step-daughter, and two step-grandchildren.

Air pollution linked to 1.2M deaths in China in 2010


A woman rides her bicycle with a protective mask in Beijing. (Getty Images)

A woman rides her bicycle with a protective mask in Beijing. (Getty Images)

Originally posted

By Dylan Stableford, Yahoo! News | The Lookout

More than 1.2 million people died prematurely in China in 2010 as a result of outdoor air pollution, a new analysis of scientific data shows.

The summary—released Sunday in Beijing and first published by the Lancet, a British medical journal—is based on 2010’s Global Burden of Disease Study and was reported on by The New York Times.

Air pollution led to 3.2 million deaths worldwide in 2010, the study found, with China contributing more than a third of them.

“Ambient particulate matter pollution” was listed fourth among the leading risk factors for deaths in China, the Times noted, behind dietary risks, high blood pressure and smoking.

Reports like these “are politically threatening in the eyes of some Chinese officials,” the Times reported:

Chinese officials cut out sections of a 2007 report called “Cost of Pollution in China” that discussed premature deaths. The report’s authors had concluded that 350,000 to 400,000 people die prematurely in China each year because of outdoor air pollution.

And:

There has been growing outrage in Chinese cities over what many say are untenable levels of air pollution. Cities across the north hit record levels in January, and official Chinese newspapers ran front-page articles on the surge—what some foreigners call the “airpocalypse”—despite earlier limits on such discussion by propaganda officials.

The problem, of course, is not limited to China. In India, 620,000 deaths were blamed on outdoor air pollution in 2010, according to the study.

Urban air pollution is set to become the top environmental cause of mortality worldwide by 2050, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development warned last month, jumping ahead of dirty water and lack of sanitation:

Air pollution concentrations in some cities, particularly in Asia, already far exceed World Health Organization safe levels. By 2050, the number of premature deaths from exposure to particulate matter is projected to more than double to reach 3.6 million a year globally, with most deaths occurring in China and India.